Diamonds on the Beach
JOHN HUNTER PHILLIPS Where does he get the music? One of the first things you learn when you meet John is that he's a Beach Boys fan. He has dissected their harmonies many times, in order to recreate them using his own voice. Listen to the songs on the samples. He did not get any of that from sheet music, though he could certainly write the sheet music for these recordings if he had to. He got them by listening, one note at a time. Try it sometime. John studied music at the University of Miami, and he studied it thoroughly. He's been a musician all his life, from a family of musicians. He had his own band in sixth grade, then another through high school, and others for several years thereafter. He may put together another band, who knows? 9 Highlights, & 3 Highlights We'll tell you in a minute what the three true highlights of his life are. But there are an additional nine highlights enjoyed by very few people - John sang onstage with the Beach Boys nine times; and if you search through the gallery on his website for photos of those events, you will see his soul shining from the joy of it. John is most alive when he's singing. He needs to make music to stay happy. The three true highlights of his life are his three daughters. He loves them more than life. It's not clear whether he loves them more than he loves singing. Just kidding. Jena, Brooke, and Lynda. They're lovely, independent, intelligent, strong-minded, very likable young ladies. It is no wonder John is proud of them. Diamonds on the Beach-note the range In 1999, after spending hours putting his unique voice on the harmonies, John had recorded enough Beach Boys songs (and one by John Fogerty) to put out his first CD, "Diamonds on the Beach." That CD contains 16 winning songs. When you listen to the samples, or to the CD itself, notice the voice range. That's all John. He does some duet work with Billy Hinsche on "One More Night Alone," and Misha Wade does some background vocal on "Wild Honey." The rest, from bass to falsetto, is all John. Then he did what any enthusiastic musician does. He started recording for his next CD. As copies of "Diamonds on the Beach" were being bought up, he headed back to the studio for a second round with different songs. But life did what life so often does-it happened while he was making other plans. That second CD had to take a back seat to a divorce and major life reorganization. It was wrenching. Enough said. It's About Time, literally When he was ready, he finished the second CD, all 18 songs of it. This time, two songs are by Beach Boy alumnus Billy Hinsche (those arrangements are John's, by the way) and one is by Brian Wilson sideman, Jeffrey Foskett. Three of the songs are originals by John, and they're excellent. One a capella piece is by John's talented friend, Jim Oliver, and another is a nod to The Four Freshman. There is one favorite by Dion DiMucci. The rest of his recordings, need we mention, are Beach Boys songs. Why did John choose the title "It's About Time" for this second CD? You can figure that one out by yourself, we're sure of it. It was worth the wait. Deeper history Born to Marvin and Edna Phillips on April Seventh, 'many moons ago' in Norwich, Connecticut, John Hunter Phillips is the youngest sibling of four to enjoy a solid family background wherein "success" was defined by the moral and ethical standards of his parents. John's father, the late Marvin Phillips died when John was 17 and a senior in high school. His Mom, now 95, still resides in Connecticut. John decided to remain living with his recently widowed mother in Connecticut, and to commute Mitchell College, in New London, Connecticut, where he was Editor-In-Chief of the college newspaper. That summer, John transferred to the University of Miami and graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mass Communications, with a minor in Marketing in 1972. During this time John also studied, taught and performed music. John's whole life has revolved around a natural talent and proclivity toward music of all genres, both in areas of performance and appreciation. His inherent curiosity was nurtured by the encouragement of his parents, his school system, his private music tutors, his church, his close friends, and his equally gifted siblings. His early influences included an early childhood attraction to a toy ukulele; fascination in watching his grandmother play ragtime piano well into her eighties; addiction to the record player; being teased to uncontrollable laughter by an older brother (a very talented pianist), who would intentionally play wrong notes in order to make "Johnny" laugh; the first brief piano lessons; an interest in learning drums in elementary school band; admiration of his oldest brother's discipline in mastering the trumpet in the style of the greats like Harry James (as well as his assistance in learning to sight-read music); his sister's natural talent at piano and organ; years of private and public school lessons on the tenor saxophone; his mother's boundless, yet patient insistence that daily practice be adhered to and supervised by her, coupled with her experience as a school teacher; and also to no lesser degree, the family's positive environment based on his father's love of listening to his children play music in ensemble. (John's father's only musical claim was that he "played the radio.") John took it upon himself, at the age of eight, to write directly to the Walt Disney Corporation and ask permission to start the "Official Donald Duck Club." They responded with a personal letter and enough encouragement to keep the fire alive in the third grader. After that, he redesigned his dad's garage into a neighborhood kid's movie theatre. The next entreprenurial manifestation, and the most telling, was the formation of John's musical quartet, "The Customs," in sixth grade. The band played together every weekend until the end of John's high school year. He had been in the high school band and choir during that time, as well. During his first year at Mitchell College, John, along with three music buddies, arranged to record one of his original songs - "Best Friend" - at a Boston recording studio. He had 500 45-rpm singles manufactured on his own label, Coliseum Records. He named the group "Collage," and convinced a Hartford-based record distributor to push the record a little, and persuaded several New England Top-40 radio stations to add it to their playlist. The group (mostly 18 year-olds), never made a million dollars, but did manage to have a number one hit in Kentucky for a few weeks. It was obviously influenced by the style of "The Beach Boys," whom John had admired since their inception in 1961. Other records followed, like "Closin' In On Me" and "Looking For an Answer," and another record label called Subtown Records. During John's senior year at the University of Miami, "GWS" (Great World of Sound) released his original composition and recording, "Long Stretches of Highway" --- the first to be released under the full name, "John Hunter Phillips." At this time, John joined up with four music teachers (He was also teaching guitar during this period) to form a singing rock group by the name of "Somerset," with which he performed regularly and professionally in the South Florida and Florida Keys area for many years. John also continued to hone his songwriting skills and took additional courses on music theory and music harmony at Miami Dade Junior College, while also taking private lessons in the art of jazz improvisational skills on guitar. Returning to Connecticut in 1979, John took a somewhat perpendicular change in his vocational direction -though never in his heartfelt desire to create music - and began working a sales position for the Dun & Bradstreet Corporation in Norwalk, Connecticut. Meanwhile, he persisted in his songwriting aspirations, winning several national competitions. In particular, in 1983, John won a fourth place award, out of 40,000 entrants that year, for an original composition titled, "You're Never Alone." That song is recorded on the now-available CD, 'It's About Time.' John continued to write, record demos, play piano and sing, while enjoying his role of "Dad" to three beautiful daughters. He pressed on with learning by experience the skills of business management, sales and marketing, while under the employ of the software giant, Ashton-Tate corporation, as well as the largest karaoke music producing manufacturing and distribution company in the world, "Sound Choice Accompaniment Tracks, Inc.," in Charlotte, North Carolina. He was also sales manger for "ProTech Marketing, Inc.," a division of "Secom, Inc.," which was a key player in the development of cutting-edge software copy-protection technologies. John, having been in positions of sales, sales management and marketing, garnered invaluable experience and is now extremely excited by the coupling of this with his true passion and strongest forte - music! November 18, 1994 brought for John a dream come true experience! He had won a contest which allowed him to meet up with The Beach Boys backstage at the rehearsal for their first 'unplugged' concert, which took place at Ovens auditorium in Charlotte, North Carolina. Gushing before the TV camera the afternoon of the show, he jubilantly exclaimed that he had "never been so happy in his whole life." There he was, being interviewed for the Charlotte Nightly News with an audio backdrop of the actual Beach Boys rehearsing a new ending to "Surfer Girl" for that night's performance. Later that same day, he was priviledged to share a microphone onstage with Beach Boy Bruce Johnston on "Barbara Ann" and "Fun, Fun, Fun". This scenario then repeated itself eight other times at various venues around the United States, and John remains most thankful to all of The Beach Boys for those wonderful nights. He says, "Words cannot express." In 1999, John released his self-produced 16 track CD titled, "Diamonds On The Beach", which was received with great applause internationally; selling not only in the United States, but in Europe, Australia and Japan. So, it is with great excitement that John is now re-releasing "Diamonds On The Beach" once again! The tracks are primarily lesser-known songs previously recorded by The Beach Boys, Brian Wilson and Carl Wilson. Billy Hinsche, a twenty five year veteran of The Beach Boys, brother-in-law to the late Carl Wilson, as well as one-third of the successful 60's singing group, "Dino, Desi & Billy," sings a duet with John on a song written by Billy and originally recorded by Carl Wilson on his second solo album, "Young Blood." Billy was also kind enough to write the liner notes for " Diamonds On The Beach." John's second CD, 'It's About Time,' is every bit as energetic a listening experience. Once again pairing up with the talents of Billy Hinsche, who wrote a great song "Under A Beach Boy Moon," John finds himself in the excellent company of Billy Hinsche and Jeffrey Foskett (10 year veteran of the Beach Boys and current member of The Brian Wilson Band) singing with him on a touching version of a song written by the late Dennis Wilson, originally released by The Beach Boys on their 1972 classic album "Holland", "Only With You". Amidst an impressive array of extremely talented musicians, chief engineer and co-producer Boo English, as well as the talents of key musicians and sequencers, David Floyd, Freddy Tripp, Wade Starnes, Tim Gordon and many others, John offers up a selection of songs written by himself, Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Carl Wilson,Billy Hinsche, Dennis Wilson and Dion DiMucci. John also feels very lucky indeed to also have the talents of Carter Cathcart on their duet of the Brian Wilson and Mike Love song, "Goin' On." Carter plays a mean axe, as well as being a maestro of singing, song composition and the vocal athleticism required to be the voices behind many highly acclaimed animated TV shows! Check out his wonderful CDs! This brings us to where we are right now, enjoying the re-release of "Diamonds On The Beach" followed up by the great harmonies, rock'n'roll styles and intimate ballads on John's second CD, "It's About Time." Keep listening !!